A group of Coventry’s incredible looked after children will be the stars of a Channel 4 documentary using poetry to talk about their own experiences of the care system.
‘Superkids – Breaking Away from Care’, broadcast on Channel 4 at 10pm on Wednesday November 28, is an emotional and powerful piece of television aimed at giving the young people a unique platform for their voices to be heard.
The group worked with award-winning writer and performer Lemn Sissay in a series of workshops exploring their feelings about being in care and writing poems to express them. It culminated in a performance of their work at the Belgrade Theatre.
Lemn spent his first 18 years living between foster families, children’s homes and assessment centres. Since then he has come to terms with his trauma by telling his story around the world.
The project began when Expectation Factual approached the Council with an innovative idea for children to be given the tools to creatively talk about their care.
Director of Children’s Services John Gregg said: “In Coventry we place such a huge emphasis on making sure the voice of the child is at the centre of our decisions so this felt like the right thing to do. The prospect of giving our young people such a unique opportunity to let their feelings be heard by a national audience was valuable.
“This is a hard-hitting film and some of the messages for all of us are difficult to hear but it is vital that we do hear them. While this documentary focuses on Coventry, it could be any local authority and unless we as a country are serious about giving a voice and listening to our young people in care then we will never be able to improve the system that defines their lives.”
Cllr Pat Seaman, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “I have been lucky enough to see a preview screening of the documentary and I would urge everyone to watch it.
“I’m incredibly proud of all our young people in care and I’m delighted a national audience will see what a talented and passionate group they are. I’m also proud of ourselves for being brave enough to take part. As a Council we place the voice of the child at the very heart of what we do, because if we don’t then we are letting them down.”
Lemn Sissay said: “The glue that holds the whole film together is trust. The young people trusted me, the council trusted them, and we all trusted the director Guy King and producer Emily Turner. Trust Trust Trust. We made something special together.
“Their stories are extraordinary. They are extraordinary people. I am proud that Coventry Council allowed their incredible young people to be seen for what they are: Superkids. They are all on the edge, on the edge of the care system. They will be breaking away soon and I really believe that after watching the nation will care for them. It is extremely rare to get insights into the experience of young people BEFORE they leave care. That makes this unique. I have loved every minute of the film. “
Colin Barr, Creative Director for Expectation, said: “Watching the young people in Coventry’s care system learn from Lemn and teach him in return was an utter privilege. Their writing and performing was both inspiring and uplifting, but it didn’t shy away from confronting the weaknesses in the care system. The film is a much-needed wake up call for all of us and a reminder that these young people have something to say, but are we willing to listen to them?”
If you are interested joining Coventry City Council as a social worker you can read all about our opportunities online.
You can also find out more about fostering in Coventry.